2012 2012: UMass Dartmouth wins grant to expand work protecting coastal towns from stormtides

2012 2012: UMass Dartmouth wins grant to expand work protecting coastal towns from stormtides
UMass Dartmouth wins grant to expand work protecting coastal towns from stormtides

Federal NERACOOS grant funds continuing research at UMass Dartmouth, six other partner institutions

Thanks to a $2 million grant, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) will continue to develop a model to predict the impact of storm inundation on New England coastal communities.

Led by Dr. Changsheng Chen of UMass Dartmouth and long-time collaborator Dr. Robert Beardsley of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, a research team has proven the usefulness of the model in Scituate, Mass., and Saco, Me., for selected nor'easters in 2005, 2007 and 2010.

Work is now underway to extend the model from these two towns to cover the entire Massachusetts coastline and establish a new model that will allow forecaters to predict how far stormtides will rise.

"SMAST is grateful for this important federal support for ocean observing and coastal prediction," said Dr. Steve Lohrenz, Dean of SMAST. "These activities are critical to improved understanding of ocean ecosystems, maritime safety and commerce, and sustainability of our ocean resources."

The $2 million grant funding the research to UMass Dartmouth and six other institutions is part of an effort by NERACOOS - the Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems - to develop a Northeast ocean observing system.

Other funding recipients include the University of Maine, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Rhode Island, the University of Connecticut, and the Bedford Institute of Oceanography (Nova Scotia).

NERACOOS, a regional component of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®), spans coastal waters from the Canadian Maritime Provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to Long Island Sound.

Their mission is to provide those who use these waters with actionable information, including weather and ocean data to emergency managers who issue storm warnings, and to fishers and commercial shippers to determine if conditions are safe for passage. NERACOOS is also advancing efforts to use this data for ocean planning, water quality monitoring, harmful algal bloom predictions and warnings, and coastal flooding and erosion forecasting systems.

"The Coast Guard in the Northeast uses real-time ocean and weather observations from NERACOOS for search and rescue missions and other operations," said Tim Carton, Search and Rescue Specialist at the 1st Coast Guard District. "The information from NERACOOS is also important when responding to environmental threats that are often driven by weather and currents."

The $2,032,393 received from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration represents the second year of funding of a five-year award. The majority of the funding will be distributed among the NERACOOS operational/research partners to sustain the data collection and forecasting efforts of the program.

For more information about NERACOOS and its work in the Northeast, visit www.neracoos.org; for IOOS, go to www.ioos.gov.

For more information about UMass Dartmouth's SMAST, visit www.smast.umassd.edu.